The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) for the 2012 Olympic Games has published a review highlighting the lessons learned from adopting a policy for the use of PVC in the project.  

The policy regarding the use of PVC in the construction of the Games facilities, published by the London 2012 Organising Committee in 2009 recognised the potential scale of PVC required from membrane wraps to flooring, cabling and pipework as well as certain functional requirements for which PVC was the most appropriate material.  

Specific parameters were set for the use of PVC in the project, including requirements in the manufacture and end-of-use management of the material. The Organising Committee also encouraged suppliers to innovate plasticisers rather than use phthalate plasticisers in flexible PVC applications.  

The effectiveness of the PVC policy was assessed late last year and the review titled ‘Learning legacy: Lessons learned from the London 2012 Games construction project’ was published by the ODA.  

PVC suppliers in the supply chain have in response to the policy, actively sought to develop new products that attempted to meet all the requirements. More than 142,500m² of PVC membranes and architectural textiles have been supplied to the Games including almost a third using new plasticiser systems, which however came at a premium cost.  

Benefits of phthalates recognised
According to the review, the Policy has ‘highlighted that the functional properties of PVC make it the most appropriate material in certain circumstances. Indeed, high molecular phthalates play a role in creating a longer lifespan to certain products. This includes lift shaft cables, where there is no better alternative product and therefore the longevity of the PVC should be recognised’.  

It went on to admit that the policy should have recognised the different kinds of phthalates with variable properties and different environmental and health effects.  

PVC materials were also found to be the only solution in some instances for health and safety reasons. On a whole of life basis, it found that some PVC based components were more suitable for installation than non-PVC.  

20,000 square metres of PVC cover the Basketball Arena  

The London 2012 Olympic Games includes several permanent structures as well as some temporary buildings. The new Basketball Arena is one of the largest temporary venues ever used for Olympic and Paralympic Games.  

The Arena’s steel frame is wrapped in a vast expanse of white PVC membrane, covering three variations of arched panels. The PVC architectural textile was chosen as a lightweight and cost-effective material because it can often be reused or simply recycled.  

During the Games, the Arena’s exterior wrap will also be used as a canvas for artistic and innovative light performances.  

One of the quickest venues to be completed, the structure will be dismantled by the contractors, who built and own the temporary elements, with the option of potentially using these elements at other UK and overseas events. Two-thirds of its materials and components will be reused or recycled after they are dismantled.  

The ODA stated that the decision to build a temporary arena goes some distance in helping them achieve their aim of ensuring that no large structures were left standing after the Games.

The Vinyl Council of Australia is working to advance the sustainability of the vinyl or PVC industry in Australia. Its members are drawn across the supply chain of the vinyl industry.